Monday, June 15, 2015on
The Greenville News published a great front-page story over the weekend about exactly how inadequate the current “solution” is for fixing roads. It’s worse than a Band-Aid: It’s one of those little pinky Band-Aids that nobody ever uses and don’t stick to anything anyway. The Greenville News reported that under the current plan to use this year’s state surplus revenue, Greenville County would receive $8.65 million. That’s a lot of money, right? Well, that’s about enough to pave 29 miles of road. There are as many as 795 miles of secondary roads in Greenville County in need of paving, so this funding could fix slightly more than 3 percent of them. $8.65 million, while a large sum of money, is woefully inadequate. It’s that tiny pinky Band-Aid. In politics, it’s easy to throw around big numbers and think everyone has solved a problem. It’s easier to throw around big numbers and scare the heck out of the public. I know. I used to do it for a living. Now, don’t get me wrong, $400 million certainly is a lot of money, but when you break it down into solutions, it doesn’t solve much. It’s a rhetorical ploy. When politicians talk about these giant sums, they’re papering over the real problem. Most of us can’t conceive $400 million, let alone $100 billion. It makes it seem like tax money is close to infinite. It isn’t. But back to the issue at hand. The General Assembly will return to session tomorrow to decide where $400 million in surplus money will go. While we support using some of the (one-time) surplus money to fix our roads, it isn’t a permanent solution, and shouldn’t be viewed as such. (On a side note: We hope they will also pass a budget before the state government is slated to shut down on July 1. We don’t actually think a shutdown will happen, but we’re running up against a pretty firm constitutional deadline.) Perhaps some long-shot procedural moves will work this week, but it’s time to stop kicking the can down the (potholed) road and start working for solutions.